Get access

Malignant pheochromocytoma in a young adult forming the structure simulating Homer Wright rosette: Differentiation from neuroblastoma on repeating fluorescence in situ hybridization


Haruhiko Sugimura, MD, PhD, First Department of Pathology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, 1-20-1, Handayama, Higashi-ku, Hamamatsu 431-3192, Japan. Email:


A peculiar adrenal tumor was analyzed using immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with multiple bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) probes. The patient was a 34-year-old woman with a mass above the left kidney and multiple metastases. Her serum and urine dopamine level were elevated, and a diagnosis of malignant pheochromocytoma was made. The patient died approximately 3 years after her first visit. On post-mortem an adrenal tumor composed of small round cells forming Homer Wright rosette-like structures, a feature rarely observed in pheochromocytoma, was found. Immunohistochemistry was positive for chromogranin A and synaptophysin, and negative for cytokeratin, vimentin and neurofilaments. Because these results did not rule out a diagnosis of neuroblastoma, the tumor was further characterized on FISH with multiple BAC probes for loci known to be altered in neuroblastoma or pheochromocytoma, according to information in the literature that was for the most part obtained using comparative genomic hybridization. FISH demonstrated loss of heterozygosity at 11p, and gains at 16p, 19p, and 19q, a profile that favored a diagnosis of malignant pheochromocytoma over neuroblastoma. This case demonstrates that repeating FISH is useful for differential diagnosis.